The steam was rising from the ground and what seemed like every surface. The caverns had a steady stream of 130-degree air flowing through them. And although we knew there were blood sucking beasts within, it seemed like nothing would live long in this environment. And that was the point. We recently found a small infestation of bugs in one of the kids’ bedrooms in our house and instead of burning the entire house down as I was tempted to do, we bought a steamer and rented a heating system that would kill these wretched creatures.
The stress of this small infestation and preventing it from becoming a large infestation had me at my wit’s end. I ended up shaving my arms and legs and trimming my beard back, because every movement of hair on my leg had me thinking I had one of these nasty things crawling on me. I started noticing dots and spots, lint and fuzz that looked like these bugs on everything. EVERYTHING. Me having freckles was not helpful, I started to question if freckles that I have had since childhood were now these things.
But they weren’t. Although it was a small trauma, it still caused my paradigm (the lens through which I see everything) to change. I saw a bug and then everything that even came close to looking similar to that became a bug in my mind. This same thing happens so often in our lives. We experience one hurt, one negative thing and then apply that pain to anything and everything that looks similar. This is how racism, sexism, division, hatred, and lies spread so easily. This will no doubt be included in the book I am currently working on, Shattering Paradigms. I can’t wait to finish and share it with you.
We prayed for them to go away, to be miraculously eradicated, but instead it took work. It took detailed, meticulous, time-consuming, tiring work. And much of it had to be done on Father’s Day, the day I am to be worshipped as the provider, protector, pastor, and whatever other “P” words you can use to describe and glamorize dad-ship/ fatherhood. It was supposed to be a day full of awesomeness; the yard magically mowed, sun-bathing (never burning) on a beach in San Diego, hunting (successfully) in a mountain in Montana, and an 18-hole round at Augusta (shooting 15 under par), all while sitting on my backside with grapes dropped in my mouth at the perfect interval. Don’t worry about the logistics there.
Instead, I ended up being rude, rough, impatient, and quick-tempered towards my family, and stressed, tired, and paranoid. At the end of it all, this small trauma affected me in great ways, more than mentioned above. The horror stories of these small infestations becoming large infestations took over my thoughts. As a precaution we treated the entire house and the massive amount of cleaning and clearing of stuff continued to grow everywhere we turned. The costs kept piling up. I wasn’t exuding the things I equip, empower, and encourage others to do. Hypocritical? Maybe a bit, but it was also simply me being human, yet again. Me needing God’s grace, yet again. Me needing to forgive the offenses I took up, yet again. Me needing to stop being offended, yet again. Me needing to be love incarnate: enduring, patient, kind, thoughtful, secure, generous, righteous, empathetic, compassionate, strong, humble, steadfast, and unbreakable, yet again.
All of these traits are traits of God’s Love expressed in my life verse 1 Corinthians 13:4. All of these traits are the traits that are on the back of our “Love Is… 1134” shirt that God woke me up with the design for. 1134 being hEll flipped on its head, and also the time and number I have seen everywhere for 20+ years, and the numbers from the scripture reference above. All of these traits are how I desire and strive to live my life. Can I challenge you to do the same? We have created these shirts as a common language reminder of how we are supposed to Love (express God’s heart to and serve) others.
Here are some thoughts to reflect on: What have you let get you bent out of shape? What have you let derail you and keep you from being the person God called you to be. What has kept you from being love to your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers?
When I look back at Father’s Day 2023, I truly hope to remember how something so small (literally, 1-3 millimeters) could cause me to fail to be the father I know I am and how I sat in front of my family as we did our nighttime tradition and repented for it. Not asking for or demanding their forgiveness, but just telling them that I was sorry how I responded and treated them. Acknowledging and taking ownership for my actions and attitude. How God convicted me of my heart in those moments and how, I hope, that my family sees my heart for God and them.